STEVE Davis insists his Crewe players are ready to make the step up ahead of Saturday’s big kick-off.

Promoted Alex face League One rivals Hartlepool United as the season starts with their Capital One Cup clash at Gresty Road.

After completing an unbeaten pre-season campaign with a 1-0 win over Championship outfit Barnsley on Tuesday night, Davis feels preparations have gone to plan.

“It’s been a good pre-season and I was glad to bring in new players early so we could work with them on the training ground,” he said.

“We’re full of confidence going into the season with it being something like 30 games now without defeat, both in the league and in friendlies.

“If we play like we have shown we can in pre-season, then we will be fine.”

Adam Dugdale ensured Crewe head into Saturday with plenty of momentum, meeting Ashley Westwood’s precise free kick with a bullet header on 19 minutes.

AJ Leitch-Smith has been battling with a hairline fracture of his little toe, but both he and Abdul Osman came through unscathed and should be in contention to face United.

However Steve Phillips (knee), Kelvin Mellor (ankle) and Matt Tootle (groin) will miss out.

“AJ just has to go through the pain barrier,” added Davis.

“It depends on how much discomfort he can put up with as there’s nothing much you can do with those injuries.

“He is fine running around, but the problem might come with striking a ball.

“We are in decent shape overall.

“There are one or two bumps and bruises but I’m pleased with their fitness.

“You get to a stage in pre-season when enough is enough and you want to get started.

“Neil (Baker) has been to watch Hartlepool, and they are a strong and organised side.

“That could be what we will be up against for a lot of the season and it will be a challenge.

“I’ve got it sketched out in my head and we will start preparing the team on Thursday and Friday.

“We tried three or four different things against Barnsley.

“We have got players who are comfortable playing in more than one system and it’s great.”